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Mentoring and Coaching

Editor's Note to Readers

Welcome to the sixth edition of Human Capital Matters for 2014—the digest for leaders and practitioners with an interest in human capital and organisational capability. This edition focuses on Mentoring and Coaching.

Human Capital Matters seeks to provide APS leaders and practitioners with easy access to the issues of contemporary importance in public and private sector human capital and organisational capability. It has been designed to provide interested readers with a monthly guide to the national and international ideas that are shaping human capital thinking and practice. The inclusion of articles is aimed at stimulating creative and innovative thinking and does not in any way imply that the Australian Public Service Commission endorses service providers or policies.

Mentoring and coaching programs are common place in both the public and private sectors throughout the world. Both mentoring and coaching have different historical roots, however, in contemporary practice there is a blurring of the two and in some cases the terms can be used interchangeably. Mentoring has had a varied history within the public sector context and it was used in a structured sense about a decade ago in the context of Equal Employment Opportunity programs. In the public sector context it is important for such programs and relationships to occur in the broader prevailing ethical codes.

This edition commences with a 2008 examination of 25 formal mentoring programs for public sector workers by Lisa Eurich and Brian Hansford. This identified a lack of consensus about the purpose of such programs. This is followed by a review of Coaching Core Competencies developed by the International Coaching Federation. These highlight the contemporary skills expected of coaches.

The edition also highlights a case study about the use of external coaches to train internal managers as change agents during a time of organisational transformation of Sanofi, a global diversified health care company. This highlights the benefit coaching can play towards improving engagement levels.

A special highlight is the 2014 edition of Coaching and Mentoring: Theory and Practice authored by Bob Garvey, Paul Stokes, and David Megginson. This places coaching and mentoring in an academic context and, in particular, highlights that it is becoming more difficult to distinguish between coaching and mentoring. Coaching and mentoring is also shown to be context specific. There is no single preferred approach.

Next, this edition includes a valuable historical reference to mentoring in the public sector, the NSW Government's 2004 edition of Mentoring Made Easy: A practical guide. This was written when Equal Employment Opportunity Programs were at a peak. Nevertheless the reference provides useful case studies from that period.

Thank you to those who took the time to provide feedback on earlier editions of Human Capital Matters. Comments, suggestions or questions regarding this publication are always welcome and should be addressed to: humancapitalmatters [at] apsc.gov.au. Readers can also subscribe to the mailing list through this email address.

Contents

Ehrich, Lisa C. and Hansford, Brian C. (2008) Mentoring in the public sector. Practical Experiences in Professional Education, 11(1). pp. 1–58

The focus of this paper is an examination of 25 research based papers published between 1991 and 2006 that report the outcomes of formalised mentoring programs for public sector workers. Mentoring programs were initially introduced in the private sector in the United States. Public sector organisations were soon to follow.

Go to “Ehrich, Lisa C. and Hansford, Brian C. (2008) Mentoring in the public sector. Practical Experiences in Professional Education, 11(1). pp. 1-58”

International Coaching Federation. Coaching Core Competencies

This article draws attention to eleven core coaching competencies that were developed to support greater understanding about the skills and approaches used within today's coaching profession as defined by the International Coaching Federation (ICF). Coaches are trained to listen, to observe and to customise their approach to individual client needs. They seek to elicit solutions and strategies from the client; they believe the client is naturally creative and resourceful. The coach's job is to provide support to enhance the skills, resources, and creativity that the client already has

Go to “International Coaching Federation. Coaching Core Competencies”

The Pyramid Resource Group Inc. (March 2013) Change agents, team coaching and organisational transformation

This article refers to a case study of organisational change using change agents and team coaching. The design of the initiative focused on: accelerating change leadership and team coaching skills; setting the stage for courageous communication; and fostering a culture of coaching and continuous improvement. Even though only 25% of the company's teams—60 actual teams—were coached through the process, the entire organisation felt the impact and engagement increased among all divisions of the company

Go to “The Pyramid Resource Group Inc. (March 2013) Change agents, team coaching and organisational transformation”

Bob Garvey, Paul Stokes, David Megginson (2014). Coaching and Mentoring: Theory and Practice Books Google

The authors note that coaching and mentoring activities have continued to evolve. There can be no ‘one best way’ to mentor and coach and therefore no one definition. It is acknowledged that there is still much debate about the similarities and differences between coaching and mentoring. The authors conclude that while coaching and mentoring may historically derive from different roots, in the modern context they are essentially similar

Go to “Bob Garvey, Paul Stokes, David Megginson (2014). Coaching and Mentoring: Theory and Practice Books Google”

NSW Government, (2004). Mentoring Made Easy: A practical guide

This publication was written for NSW public servants with a view to offering managers and executives a cost-effective way of assisting groups of employees to acquire the knowledge and skills to operate within a changing environment. This booklet simplifies the process, and showcases the experiences of a number of NSW Public Sector agencies. At the time it was also recognised as being useful to people who wished to establish a mentoring relationship outside a formal agency-sponsored program.

Go to “NSW Government, (2004). Mentoring Made Easy: A practical guide”

Ehrich, Lisa C. and Hansford, Brian C. (2008) Mentoring in the public sector. Practical Experiences in Professional Education, 11(1). pp. 1-58

The focus of this paper is an examination of 25 research based papers published between 1991 and 2006 that report the outcomes of formalised mentoring programs for public sector workers. Mentoring programs were initially introduced in the private sector in the United States. Public sector organisations were soon to follow.

The authors note that a common thread across the definitions is the notion that mentoring is a helpful, supportive and developmental relationship between a more experienced person and a less experienced person designed to develop both professional and personal skills.

The mentoring programs in the public sector typically focussed on:

  • new staff, graduates, and trainees
  • existing or aspiring leaders
  • targeted groups in the affirmative action strategies prevalent at the time of the research.

The research findings revealed that the majority of programs reported on outcomes for leaders. More positive outcomes than negative outcomes were attributed to mentoring. Commonly cited positive outcomes included improved skills / knowledge and increased confidence; and negative outcomes included lack of time and lack of mentor training and understanding.

There is a lack of consensus regarding the overarching purpose or aims of mentoring programs. In addition there is no single or agreed model of mentoring available in the public or private sector.

As it is a highly complex interpersonal relationship it requires, at the very least, interest and commitment of mentors and mentees and support from others in the organisation if it is to work effectively in practice.

Lisa C. Ehrich is an Associate Professor in the School of Learning & Professional Studies, Faculty of Education, at Queensland University Technology, Australia. She is the coordinator of the leadership and management area of interest in the Master of Education and a member of the Faculty of Education's Doctor of Education teaching team. Her research interests include professional development, mentoring and leadership.

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International Coaching Federation. Coaching Core Competencies

This article draws attention to eleven core coaching competencies that were developed to support greater understanding about the skills and approaches used within today's coaching profession as defined by the International Coaching Federation (ICF). Coaches are trained to listen, to observe and to customise their approach to individual client needs. They seek to elicit solutions and strategies from the client; they believe the client is naturally creative and resourceful. The coach's job is to provide support to enhance the skills, resources, and creativity that the client already has.

The core coaching competencies identified by the ICF include:

  1. Setting the foundation
    1. meeting ethical guidelines and professional standards
    2. establishing the coaching agreement
  2. Co-creating the relationship
    1. establishing trust and intimacy with the client
    2. coaching presence
  3. Communicating effectively
    1. active listening
    2. powerful questioning
    3. direct communication
  4. Facilitation learning and results
    1. creating awareness
    2. designing actions
    3. planning and goal setting
    4. managing progress and accountability

The International Coaching Federation seeks to advance the Art, Science and Practice of Professional Coaching.

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The Pyramid Resource Group Inc. (March 2013) Change agents, team coaching and organisational transformation

This article refers to a case study of organisational change using change agents and team coaching. The design of the initiative focused on: accelerating change leadership and team coaching skills; setting the stage for courageous communication; and fostering a culture of coaching and continuous improvement. Even though only 25% of the company's teams—60 actual teams—were coached through the process, the entire organisation felt the impact and engagement increased among all divisions of the company.

Change agents were carefully selected and recruited from within the company (Sanofi) for a two-year assignment. This team of 25 leaders was charged with supporting first line through director level and business unit head leaders in implementing broad organisational change in three specific areas – cultivating change agility, accelerating team performance and creating an environment where continuous improvement is a natural progression of work.

While all of Sanofi's strategic imperatives were positively influenced by the coaching initiative, the one most impacted was, “Energize our People and Culture.” Specifically, this included:

  • enable employees to problem solve, innovate and continuously improve
  • build employees' change agility and energize the culture by simplifying processes and engaging employees
  • raise the leadership capability and expectation across the organisation to demonstrate the behaviours and values deemed critical to the company's success.

While invigorating the participants, this coaching initiative helped employees build the skills to more effectively problem solve, work as a team toward innovative and far-reaching goals, and communicate and collaborate across work groups and departments.

Pyramid Resources Group inc.is a company based in North Carolina that provides one on one coaching for top talent mid-level managers and senior executives.

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Bob Garvey, Paul Stokes, David Megginson (2014). Coaching and Mentoring: Theory and Practice Books Google

The authors note that coaching and mentoring activities have continued to evolve. There can be no ‘one best way’ to mentor and coach and therefore no one definition. Coaching and mentoring are used for a variety of purposes including to:

  • develop managers and leaders
  • support induction and role changes
  • fast-track people into senior positions
  • reduce stress
  • support change
  • gain employment for the long term unemployed
  • reduce crime and drug taking
  • support talent management
  • improve skills and transfer knowledge
  • support equal employment opportunities and diversity
  • support retention strategies.

It is acknowledged that there is still much debate about the similarities and differences between coaching and mentoring. The authors conclude that while coaching and mentoring may historically derive from different roots, in the modern context they are essentially similar.

The history of mentoring is very long. The core model involves the more mature and experienced forming a relationship with the younger and less experienced person. In more recent times the mentor may be a peer. The authors note in historical writings on coaching and mentoring, specific skills and knowledge are transferred from one to the other with the intention of fostering independence. However, the authors are critical of modern writers with regard to them selectively drawing on dominant narratives and presenting them as versions of the truth.

The term “coaching’ when compared to “mentoring’ seems to have a more recent history in the English language. The nineteenth century writings on coaching focus on attainment and performance. Similar to the mentor, the coach is the more experienced person or more knowledgeable person. In modern writings “friendship’ is strongly linked to the mentoring relationship but not as strongly linked to the coaching relationship.

The authors note that the literature on the coaching organisation is more robust than it is on the mentoring organisation. There is, however, far more literature on one-on-one coaching relationships. One definition of coaching relates it to the responsibility of line managers in seeking an improvement in task performance. Mentoring on the other hand, is seen as a special intervention for unusual purposes such as making major transitions, challenging inequalities etc. With the focus on performance, the authors argue that it is easier to justify coaching as a fundamental way of managing work relationships than mentoring. However, the authors note that care needs to be taken, especially in the case of weak internal cultures, that managers do not become dependent on external coaches.

Bob Garvey is Professor of Business Education at York St John Business School. He is a European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) member and formerly the editor of the International Journal of Coaching and Mentoring.

Paul Stokes is a Principal Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, UK. He is the Director of the Coaching and Mentoring Research Unit within the Sheffield Business School as well as leading the Organisational Behaviour and Human Resource Management subject group within the Department of Management.

David Megginson is Emeritus Professor of HRD at Sheffield Hallam University, UK. He is the founder of the Coaching and Mentoring research unit at the University.

Dawn Chandler is Associate Professor of Management at Queens University of Charlotte. Her research interests include mentoring, career development and adult learning.

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NSW Government, (2004). Mentoring Made Easy: A practical guide

This publication was written for NSW public servants with a view to offering managers and executives a cost-effective way of assisting groups of employees to acquire the knowledge and skills to operate within a changing environment. This booklet simplifies the process, and showcases the experiences of a number of NSW Public Sector agencies. At the time it was also recognised as being useful to people who wished to establish a mentoring relationship outside a formal agency-sponsored program.

The booklet notes that mentoring is particularly effective in fostering the career development of members of equal employment opportunity (EEO) groups such as women, people with a disability, Aboriginal people, Torres Strait Islanders and members of racial, ethnic, and ethno-religious minority groups. It has particular benefits to EEO groups who historically have not had equitable access to developmental opportunities.

In NSW, obtaining the visible support and endorsement of the Chief Executive Officer, not only to initiate the program but throughout its duration, was an important first step. The booklet noted that this was valuable in gaining commitment from mentees, potential mentors within senior management and managers with staff participating in the program.

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